No recall of Cowlitz County Sheriff, judge rules - KPTV - FOX 12

No recall of Cowlitz County Sheriff, judge rules

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There will be no recall of Cowlitz County Sheriff Mark Nelson, a judge ruled Friday morning.

Judge Stephen Warning said the petition for recall submitted to the court does not have the legal footing to move forward.

The union representing striking longshore workers called for the recall last month. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union filed the petition, citing civil rights violations, police brutality and wasteful spending.

Laurie Davis represented the union in court.

"Mark Nelson would like us and the court to believe we filed this petition for recall out of spite," Davis said. "But it could not be further from the truth."

Davis said the sheriff abused his powers and allowed deputies to use aggressive behavior when arresting protesters this summer.

"We do not deny that arrests were made. We object to how the arrests were made," Davis said.

She told the judge that protesters were stalked and harassed by deputies and some suffered physical injuries.

"We have no place to turn but a recall because Mark Nelson believes his department does no wrong," Davis said.

Nelson and his attorney responded and told the judge that Washington State law gives a sheriff discretion in how to handle a lawless situation. The sheriff told the judge he has allowed the longshoremen and other protesters to share their message, so long as they did so legally.

The sheriff says he only acted when the protesters turned to illegal actions.

The sheriff cited an incident in September when union members blocked a train. Nelson said deputies and other police had to physically remove the people.  

The judge said he was surprised that the union did not call any witnesses. After the hearing, the union said they could not testify because many of them are involved with either a criminal, civil or federal lawsuit.

Warning said the union didn't factually provide enough evidence to support the allegations.

The union has not decided if they will appeal the ruling.

SLIDESHOW: Protesters handcuffed, hauled away from railroad tracks

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